How to get siblings to stop fighting by emphasizing maturity

You give your younger child some strawberries.

“I want strawberries too!” shouts the older child.

You give your older child some strawberries.

“Her strawberries are bigger than mine!” screams the older child.

This dynamic between siblings can be incredibly frustrating. In my conversation with Michaeleen, author of Hunt, Gather, Parent, she admits that the topic of siblings can be a whole other book of its own. It’s funny because Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish expressed a similar statement in their book Siblings Without Rivalry (which is an amazing book as well).

So how can we get siblings to cooperate instead of compete?

It all start with Responsibility.

If a child is acting out, don’t punish, give them more responsibilities

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GRACE Parenting: How to use a knife to teach kids Autonomy and Confidence

It was 7:30am. I was getting breakfast ready and the 5-year-old was sitting on the couch reading a book.

Suddenly she plopped down on the couch and exclaimed, “I’m bored.”

First and foremost, it’s ok for kids to feel boredom. Actually, it’s beneficial. But often times parents see this as a requirement of their attention. A parent will drop everything that they’re doing in order to entertain the kid, or likely, just turn on the television and let YouTube entertain them. I know I’ve been guilty of this.

But let’s flip the script. Instead of seeing boredom as something bad, let’s see it as an opportunity for something good.

In this case, I was getting breakfast ready, so I let the 5-year-old know, “if you’d like, you can help me make the smoothie.”

Examine how I carefully worded my statement, “if you’d like.” It’s not a demand — it’s an invitation.

A demand won’t work in this instance: Do our demands really work on children? Do our threats actually get our children to willingly and happily comply? If I want my child to brush her teeth, should I threaten her to do it right now “or else”, or should I let her know that her toothbrush is hungry and it wants to eat the germs on her teeth?

Because I didn’t word it as a demand, the 5-year-old eventually sat up and waddled over to the kitchen island.

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GRACE Parenting: I let my daughter scoot to grandma’s house all alone 😱

Inspired by Michaeleen Doucleff’s book, Hunt, Gather, Parent, and the show Old Enough on Netflix, I decided to teach my 5-year-old how to scoot to grandma’s house independently.

I would never do this as a Parent in SF

My wife and I lived in San Francisco for 13 years, 5 of them with kids. I’ve dreamed about teaching my kids autonomy by letting them walk to school more independently, but it never felt safe because of the homelessness and general crime in SF.

Our school was only a 10-minute walk from our home. I truly believe that if she had to, our 5 year old could have made the walk.

To practice, I would bike the girls to school, park at the street corner, and encourage them to walk to the school gates by themselves. It was slow going.

At first they didn’t want to. After a few days they walked a few steps. Then a week later they made it halfway. All the while, I made sure to let them know, “Practice makes better. You’ll make it further little-by-little each day. Don’t feel rushed. Take your time and you’ll get there.

Important: Kids mature at different paces. It’s more productive to encourage and let them know that they’ll do it when they’re ready as opposed to forcing kids to do something. In this example, if I had forced them to walk to the gate, they would have resisted harder and probably developed a fear of walking independently.

For many reason, my kids never made it by themselves to the gate.

But we soon moved to the suburbs and my chance to teach autonomy through independent walking was reborn.

A parent’s worst fear: abduction

In Julie Lythcott-Haims’ book How to Raise an Adult, the opening pages describe a scene that is a parent’s worst nightmare. A mother left her child alone in the mall in order to do some shopping. The child was abducted and killed.

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